CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The state Department of Environmental Protection’s Surface Mine Board will hold a hearing Monday on the permit for a controversial surface mine project near Kanawha State Forest—a hiking and biking destination in Kanawha County.

Keystone Coal’s KD #2 surface mine is located just east of Kanawha State Forest and, as planned, will come within 588 feet of the forest boundary during the course of the mining.

Work on the 414-acre mine site, which could produce seven million tons of coal over a 10-year period, started in early June. During July, DEP inspectors found problems with two sediment ditches.

The opposition to the mine project started long before those issues were identified.

Citizens with the Kanawha State Forest Coalition, the Keeper of the Mountains and other groups have argued the mine site is too close to Kanawha State Forest and, because of that, threatens streams there along with native plant and animal species including a type of endangered bat.

Last week, members of those groups and others rallied at the State Capitol and delivered a petition with 4,000 signatures to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin that called for the permit for the project to be rescinded.

The status of the Keystone permit is up to the DEP.

The surface mine project has been in the works for years.

The original permit request for Keystone Coal’s KD #2 mine was filed with the DEP in 2009. That proposal was altered before the permit was approved last May to shrink the size of the mine site, address reclamation and limit blasting on weekends and holidays.

Monday’s hearing will begin a 8:30 a.m. at the DEP’s headquarters in Charleston and it is expected to last most of the day.  It can be viewed here.

Kanawha State Forest is a 9,300-acre forest located seven miles south of Charleston.

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Comments

  • Dale Porter

    It is not the Kanawha State Forest Coalition as stated in the article.
    It is the Kanawha Forest Coalition.

  • Raging Moderate

    Tough issue for moderates like me.

    The effect on streams and bat habitat are technical issues beyond laymen like me.

    My gut feeling is that the land owners have clearly compromised, and they sound like meaningful concessions.

    It sounds like there is absolutely no compromise on the part of KFC. So, for example, the KFC says the site is too close to the forest. Can the anti-project people tell us how close is too close? If 588 feet is too close, how about 600 feet? 800? 1000? It seems like any close is too close, feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

    I realize this kind of thing drives both sides
    crazy but the fact is alot of us are neither pro-coal pro business at all costs nor anti-coal pro environment at all costs. Nobody benefits from pejorative name-calling. It's not sports- these aren't teams that you root for win or lose.

    So as thorny of an issue as this is, if both sides would give a little, understanding that neither side will get everything they want, but both will get something they want, something could be done that everybody can live with.

    • muse

      Raging, the effects to streams and wildlife habitat are not technical at all. Can they described in very detailed, technical terms? Of course. But the bottom line is very simple - surface mining substantially degrades water quality compared to non-impacted streams. There is a huge body of scientific literature backing this up including a USGS study of fish populations that was recently released showing 1/2 as many fish species and 1/3 as many total fish in streams impacted by surface mining. This is bad news if you drink water, and bad news if you fish.
      You say the owners have compromised and that the Coalition has not. Remember that only one of those groups is using explosives, endangering communities, polluting drinking water, and restricting access to our public land. What sort of "compromise" do you recommend for dealing with people who are blowing up our mountains with explosives? You are asking us to "give a little", do you realize how much we have given? Thousands of miles of streams have been buried forever, hundreds of thousands of acres of WV have been destroyed, thousands of families have had their drinking water poisoned. How much more do you want us to give before we are allowed to defend ourselves?

  • Ronin

    Coal will always win in West Virginia, because Coal has successfully convinced otherwise rational people that a finite resource whose extraction routinely kills the workers (either through catastrophe or long-term health impacts) as well as their families and the surrounding community (slurry dam collapses, black lung, incidence of infant mortality and cancer) is a cornerstone of West Virginia life, a "family tradition", and God's own gift to the Montaineers...

    One which will run out within the next century at present extraction rates, which are presently leaving us with a legacy of leveled mountains,overburden-filled valleys, buried communities, poisoned streams and declining tourism in all but the biggest of the state's attractions.

  • RB

    Simple solution all of the concerned citizens pool their money and pay the landowners for the value of the land and minerals. Then they could donate the land to the Kanawha State Park.

    I bet most of these concerned citizens would be outraged if someone did the same thing when they did something to their property.

    • Brilliant idea!

      Brilliant idea! I propose the reverse. Since those citizens probably couldn't bankroll the cost of a single one of those giant mountain moving dozers if you put their life savings together, how bout we just sell the state park to the coal company and mine the coal out from under that place. Sell'em the Capitol building while we're at it. They pretty much own the place anyway.

  • EPAers

    'Environmental advocates' is a weird name for people who think this mine encroaches on a state park. Maybe you should call them ' hippie tree huggers' or a slightly more pejorative term like 'commies'. Or how about Enrivonmental Protection Advocates? EPA for short. Notice how the headline betrays the political agenda of pro-coal, at any cost, Metronews.

    • Stephen

      Don't forget another acryonym that seems to apply to most of the folks who were interviewed:
      NIMBY - Not In My Back Yard.

      I don't recall any of these folks protesting the mining currently occuring at Fork Creek WMA just south of Charleston, but I guess Fork Creek wasn't in "Charleston's Playground".

      • muse

        Stephen, you may not be aware of it, but WV citizens have been fighting strip mining for decades, and rarely, if ever, has that struggle taken place in Charleston. The people of the Charleston area are defending our community, our heath, and our water just like people across southern WV and KY have done for many years. Unfortunately, many people are very narrow minded and fail to take action until the threat is in their back yard. Do you live near Fork Creek? Do you want help fighting the mining taking place there?

      • Not in my back yard

        Good point. My neighbor Jim Justice has no problem mining coal in Logan county. But it sure wouldn't look good next to that brand new New Orleans Saints spring training facility. NIMBY at its rich ass, god bless West Virginia best.

        • worker bee

          I'm not sure there are marketable coal reserves in White Sulphur Springs... but I am so glad we have the Greenbrier as well as the Saints there. Great for WV and for West Virginians!

  • muse

    The group of citizens opposing the mine is called Kanawha Forest Coalition, not the Kanawha State Forest Coalition. Just a minor correction to take note of. More info on the group at facebook.com/kanawhaforestcoalition

  • WVhometown boy

    Surface mining is destroying the state everywhere else, blowing off our mountain tops, no use stopping at the Forest edge. Destroy what's left of our natural resources so coal owners can get richer and leave the state with nothing that is lasting.

    • Aaron

      Where is the state destroyed beyond repair?

      Besides that monstrosity called Fountain Place near Logan, that is. That is the worst mountain top removal site I have encountered in my travels throughout the state.

      • muse

        Aaron, not sure where you live but if you have to ask that question I'm assuming you don't live in southern WV. Want to see places destroyed beyond repair? Come on down and I'll show you around.

      • Common Sense

        Some damage goes beyond what the eye can see.

        • Aaron

          Such as?

          • Hillboy

            ...not sure what part of the state you live in, but up here in north-central WV we have many streams that have been too acidic to support aquatic life for decades, all due to mining. Most people consider streams a natural resource.

          • Miner 49er

            Don't pay attention to Aaron. This guy is a message board troll. Always has to insert his two cents.

          • Hop'sHip

            How do you know that no one likes a know it all? Defend your position. How many know it alls do you know? Who did you survey to determine that no one likes them? How do define like?

          • Gabbo

            Such as why don't you shut up and quit commenting on every article. No one likes a know it all!

          • Aaron

            You're making a general claim and I was just curious as to whether you could back it up.

            As to the comment that damage beyond what the eye can see, I have no doubt that it is but I contend that it is not permanent. Drunkard Creek was supposed to be lost to aquatic wild life for decades, if not "forever" but by 2013, 35 to 40 species of fish have returned to Dunkard Creek.

            The Coal River is another stream that is being cleaned up with the implementation of man-made objects meant to speed the flow of the river and wash away sediment that have harmed the river for years.

            Former MTR sites have been rejuvenated to include wildlife in southern WV that had not been present for years.

            All are proof that while there may very well be damage the eye cannot see, it is not irreparable. Just because one supports the use of our fossil fuels does not make them anti-environment.

          • Common Sense

            My comment speaks 4 itself and I only gave a comment, Mr. Aaron. You posted in same manner on Gazette site. Did not ask 4 debate. I don't debate with strangers on a keyboard. Not safe. 2 much name-calling on the site. Advise others to do same.

    • thornton

      Good note of a "forest edge".

      Forests should have many edges.

      Would that there were far more folks who understand the why associated with an edge.
      I'd wager a donut that neither Tennent nor Capito understand.

      Hopefully, this mine will deliver edge as but one positive.

  • Dumb Liberals

    Liberals killing other liberals’ livelihood. Maybe the liberal supporting UMWA will send some muscle to the area and explain how the Gestapo should work. First you get a copy of the tree hugging complainants’ names, their addresses, and their employers, and then you have a little informal conversation with their bosses. You explain to them how their business is going to suffer from the bad publicity they are about to encounter. Pretty much the same thing these tree hugging leftists are doing.

  • wv4evah

    A surface mine next to a State forest? When will WVa wake up?

  • Mountaineer Navy

    So when will the WV media ask Natalie Tennant where she stands on this?

    • aginner

      Let's hope she opposes it like any other RESPONSIBLE candidate.

      • Gary Karstens

        YEESH! We all know where Tennant stands.....on the side of the working person.

        Where does Capito stand on all those years of voting for unbalanced budgets? YEESH!

        • The bookman

          So she's for the mine then Gary?

          • allan kile

            No way she is for it. He go friend Elizabeth Warren won't like that.